Confronting the kind of life event I spent my career counseling clients to prepare for.
I am many things. I am a wife and mother. I am a daughter, sister, aunt. I’m a loyal friend and connector of people. I’m a passionate financial advisor. A philanthropist. An appreciator of music, art, gardening and travel. A lover of life.
And, I am a woman who has been diagnosed with cancer.
That last one was not something I planned on. No one does. But there it was, the blip on the screen. The unexpected trip to the ER that ended with a doctor holding my hand and telling me I had Lymphoma. I had to remind myself to breathe. How was this possible? I’m healthy, active, full of life. I thought to myself, “I’m not ready for this. I’m just not ready.”
But the truth is, I’ve always been ready.
I’ve been trained for this. I have spent much of my career guiding women--and those who love them--through all of life’s important financial transitions. The ones filled with elation: Marriage. Family. Graduation. Entrepreneurship. Retirement. And the ones filled with heartache: Divorce. Troubled kids. Caring for an aging parent. Losing a loved one. An illness. End-of-life planning.
The work I get to do is a calling. I never realized helping women and families navigate their financial journeys would be so rewarding. Every day I get the opportunity to help people invest in their future while protecting what they love most. Helping and caring for others is woven deep into the fabric of my soul. It’s what I love to do. Caring for family. Caring for clients. Caring for community.
Wow, the day that doctor gave me the diagnosis, the tables turned. Now I was the one who needed help and care. And that’s not my style.
But soon after my diagnosis, my community answered our call. My husband, Harold, who showed both ferocious heart and a calming clarity. My two sons who demonstrated maturity beyond their years. My parents, both of whom were at our beck and call. My family and friends who found creative ways to pump my spirits, and fill my soul with positivity, love and laughter-and food. Friends who moved mountains to get me in front of the best medical specialists. And my team-led by Harold-- who kept our clients so well supported that I could step out of the business during my treatment.
I had one job to do, and that was to focus all my energy on getting better. One day at a time.
Many times, a serious illness like this can wipe out a family’s entire life savings. I’ve seen it happen. Cash savings depleted. Assets liquidated. Retirement accounts emptied. One of my treatments alone cost $51,000. And I had 12 of them. I met my annual “out-of-pocket maximum” at my first treatment.
However, the greatest blessing which provided me with overwhelming peace of mind was knowing I didn’t have to worry financially. The long-term disability policies we purchased so long ago replaced a portion of my income and it reduced our stress.
All the planning Harold and I did for our family – just like what we do for our clients – prepared us for exactly this moment in life where I stood precariously on the edge, somewhere between healthy…and not.
Fast forward to today. After six months of intense treatment, I’ve been given a green light. My cancer is in remission. Anyone who has been through treatment knows exactly how complex this feeling is. It’s a combination of celebrating and holding your breath.
For me, my diagnosis was a soul-shaking reminder of how important it is to be prepared for the moments in life we’re expecting as well as those that catch us by surprise. It’s a drastic understatement to say I am thankful Harold and I took the time to practice what we preach. I am a living, breathing example of why we’re so passionate about making sure every client has a financial plan. Every client, without exception.
And my diagnosis was also a soul-soaring reminder on how important it is to live boldly and without abandon! Don’t put off doing what is important to you. It’s that simple. So, do that big landscaping project. Take that big trip. Buy that vacation home. Create a lifetime of memories with family and friends. Life is short and is meant to be wholly and thoroughly enjoyed.
Take a page from my book and please make sure you have a financial plan. If you don’t have one, or aren’t sure the one you have can help you navigate all of life’s transitions, I encourage you to seek out guidance from a trusted financial partner.
Do it now. Don’t wait. A comprehensive financial plan is a remarkable gift. It provides unparalleled freedom to boldly embrace all that the future may hold. Without holding your breath.